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Identifying the specific location of data in databases and documenting the calculation methods that will be used, ensures reliability and consistency across time and reports. Both the accuracy and credibility of the data rely on this.
Developing a "data dictionary" - a document that clearly lays out each metric name and the attributes of the data (e.g., data type, standard format, size, content, etc.) - helps ensure that anyone who enters the data into a system or spreadsheet does so in the exact format, size, and style. The dictionary should be treated as an ongoing, always-current document updated as new fields are added or new calculation methods are introduced that impact the data needed to produce various metrics.